Color: The Return of Dirty

10 Rooms Design | Blog | Color 101 | The Return Of Dirty

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You’ve probably heard industry folk use the terms clean and dirty when referring to color. Another layer of designspeak to add to the noise. It can be so overwhelming to try and sort through all of this terminology when all you want is to figure out what color paint to buy, right? Since I get monthly questions about this, thought I’d break it down a little.

All colors are made up of pigment and or white/black. Some colors, like those below, are simply a hues found on the color wheel. These are considered “clean” colors, because they have not been mixed with any other hue, simply left pure or tinted with black/white.



10 Rooms Design Clean Color Via This Is Glamourous

10 Rooms Design via Apartment Therapy Clean Dirty color post

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In contrast to all this clean, when we take a color from the color wheel and mix it with another color from the color wheel we are changing the the base hue. It now becomes a more complex color.

So when does a color go from clean to dirty?

***If we mix a color with another color/colors that are complimentary (across the color wheel) or close to complimentary, the result ventures into the dirty category.***

Why is this? Any compliments mixed together create brown. When you mix these hues you will be, in effect, “dirtying” the color by adding brown. Think of it as layering in warm tones to each and every color.



Here are a few examples, to illustrate.



This is what it looks like in interiors..


10 Rooms Design via Wit and Delight Clean Dirty Color Post

10 Rooms Design via Popsugar Clean Dirty Color Post

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Why do you care about this? When choosing a palette for your home, this is what you need to remember:

Clean color works especially well with cool greys, because neither contain brown.

Dirty color works well with warm greys and warm neutrals because they both contain brown.

Helpful, yes?

The past several years, cool greys have reigned supreme. That meant the colors we paired with grey were clean. The pendulum has begun to swing, however. It seems we have recovered from the overwhelming dark brown trend of the late 90’s and early 00’s and are ready to accept earthy tones back into our lives. There is a marked return to camel and rust in fashion, and the interiors trends are never far behind. That means we are going to begin seeing more complex color edging back into our homes in the near future. Dirty is back, people!



Fall Edit: The Fall Floral Harvest Thanksgiving Table

Fall, and Thanksgiving, are upon us friends! We’ve had an epic summer here, all time not spent on design was dedicated to paddle boarding and exploring our lakes. A summer ripe with adventure, full of memorable moments. It is sad to see it end, but at the same time perhaps summer is so sweet because of our cold winters. Those evenings spent nesting and relaxing in front of the fire allow us to rest and get ready for the madness of spring. The highlight of fall, for us, is Thanksgiving. We cherish this family time, an opportunity to reconnect and appreciate the special people we have in our lives. It’s all about gratitude, right?

One of the things we try to impress upon our children is how fortunate we are to have table full of good food to eat each day. It’s easy to forget how much of the world does not have this luxury. And SO, I wanted the table this year to reflect the harvest.  I thought maybe we would go beyond the norm, and have floral textiles, with the fresh decoration including fruit and vegetables. It sounds a little out there, and my husband raised his eyebrows when I told him not to eat the collard greens or carrots in the refrigerator because they were for the table arrangement!

In any case, here is the end result. You can tell me if you think the mix was successful or not…








The palette is unexpected for fall, yet these are the colors we a surrounded with. There are still flowers to be found in the garden, and I just needed a change from pumpkins this year. The Emerson quote is a favourite family prayer, it’s usually found tucked into our china cabinet. You can purchase a print here if you like it… it fits perfectly with the spirit of Thanksgiving. The fabric was leftover from a project way back, and I couldn’t tell you who makes it. I’ve held onto it all this time because it was so pretty! The cabbage dishes were a vintage find, along with matching salad bowl. The twist cutlery is our everyday set. It was a wedding present, from Pier One 17 years ago! We have silver but I never find myself getting it out unless we have an extra-large crowd. The wine glasses are the “good set”. I have a wee bit of a problem breaking wine glasses, usually during the washing stage. These have only survived because we use them less often, and we started with sixteen (and are now down to nine, lol). The soft peach tones of the candleholders subtly pull in the oranges of the season. The arrangement base consists of floral foam tucked into small bowl atop the silver pedestal. I just layered on collard greens, tucked in the fruit and flowers, and then those fantastic twisted carrots.

In the end, if it makes our family smile then it has done it’s job, but I hope that the arrangement contributes to a moment of appreciation for all of our blessings.

Happy Thanksgiving all! If you are interested in a stellar recipe for Spiced Butternut Squash Soup or a delectable Caramel Apple Cocktail we included those in the Fall Edit as well. To get these directly into your inbox you can sign up for our newsletter. We post a maximum of once a month, and do not share your email address, ever. We also include special offers for our online design services in each newsletter 🙂

Cheers! am xo






eDesign: New York Oasis (2 of 3)

A little while back I posted about J’s NY home. I helped the family settle into their new home with an eDesign for the living/dining space. Next J wanted to move on to her Daughter’s room.

When the family moved into the unit, they separated a portion of the large living space to create a room for their daughter. The resulting room has a beautiful window and a decent footprint. Storage solutions, as for all little darlings rooms, were needed. With a single shared living space in the home O definitely needed some seating and a desk area so that she could maximize the use of her own space. A daybed with storage underneath would work well here for lounging, and with no closet, a tall cabinet that they had just purchased would contain O’s wardrobe. We needed a chair to provide a place to relax in, a desk with storage, and a place for a keyboard!


10roomsdesign | edesgin | NY Oasis | O's Room Photos


J had originally planned to place O’s bed along the right wall. Here are two possible layouts for the furniture with he bad along the right wall, and the headboard facing that wall. The door is located in the bottom left corner, just didn’t add it to the floor plan for some reason, lol!

The problem with the first is that by placing the bed, the largest item of furniture in the room, along the right wall we have wasted floor space in the back corner and in front of the bed.


10 Rooms Design | eDesign | Ny Oasis | O's Rooms | Floor Plan 1

In the second layout, we have really limited our movement as soon as we enter the room.

10 Rooms Design | eDesign | Ny Oasis | O's Rooms | Floor Plan 2


I suggested placing a daybed, with storage underneath, along the back wall with the tall wardrobe placed alongside. With our largest pieces of furniture tucked into the corner, we could then place O’s desk and keyboard side-by-side, so that the desk chair can be rolled over to the appropriate place. The chair placement could still be in front of the window, the perfect sunny spot for reading or daydreaming… this layout wastes no floor space, and feels fairly open. Both O and J loved this option, and now we could move onto the decorating phase.


10 Rooms Design | eDesign | Ny Oasis | O's Rooms | Floor Plan 3


O wasn’t sure what she wanted, and her Mum had seen a harlequin wallpaper that she liked, so I put together a two colorways for them to consider. A hit of black, in the form of the chair, would balance out the black keyboard and prevent the candy-colored hues from feeling too “little girl”.


10 Rooms Design | eDesign | Ny Oasis | O's Room | Design Board 510 Rooms Design | eDesign | Ny Oasis | O's Rooms | Design Board 2



After some discussion, O decided that she did not care for the harlequin wallpaper, and would prefer something with a little more whimsy. These boards show how versatile the furnishings really are…


10 Rooms Design | eDesign | Ny Oasis | O's Rooms | Design Board 1

10 Rooms Design | eDesign | Ny Oasis | O's Rooms | Design Board 410 Rooms Design | eDesign | Ny Oasis | O's Rooms | Design Board 3


O really liked the graphic polka dotted rug and bright color featured in the first design board, and so we went ahead with that. The vibrancy of this palette is based on textiles and art, with the rug in black and white, with such high-contrast, there is no need for additional wall pattern here. This option allows her to change her decor in a year or two, as she grows and her tastes change, and the large furnishings/rug will still work.

This is the final design board…. O requested a giant black beanbag chair, and she had a blast choosing art pieces for a grouping over her bed. Pastel shades abound, and she can mix in new accessories as she pleases, perfect for a pre-teen room.


10 Rooms Design | eDesign | Ny Oasis | O's Rooms | Design Board Final


Happy to say O is living large in her new digs! If you missed the living/dining post, you can find it here. Next time we will cover the master bedroom – it’s a good one 🙂

Have a great week! am